Processed cross rocks

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by hdmax, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. hdmax

    hdmax Chirping

    Jul 29, 2013
    Central Ohio
    I decided to raise my own chickens this year with the way the economy has become, I thought it best to be more prepared.
    I was raised on a small farm, but remember just once having chickens. So at 54 I am really new at this.
    I started with 8 cross rocks (ended up with 1 pullet, and 7 cockerels!) I watched a lot of you tube, and read whatever I could find on the net. (found this site a few weeks ago!)

    The chicks arrived May 29th as day olds at the local feed store. Butcher day was set for July 27th. They had food and clean water 24/7 from day one until ( First 30 days they had 28% game bird feed, then switched to 20% finisher mixed with cracked corn!) I removed the food on the 26th. All survived (Well up til Saturday evening the 27th.) and did very well.
    While waiting for them to eat and grow, I build an Whizbang type chicken plucker, (I named "the chicken stripper")
    I acquired a couple new 28" traffic cones Built a rack for them, build a processing table, scalding stove, and purchased shrink bags.

    My 14 y/o son was my helper from day one. The best helper one could hope for!
    As for processing day, we had to postpone butchering several times due to light rain, but at about 4:00pm put the water on, at 5:10 the water was up to 142* so I lowered the heat to try and keep the water between 140 and 150* that worked great, as it got to 150* and stayed there. (Two chickens at a time in the plucker for less then 30 seconds they came out clean as a whistle.)

    Things could not have gone any better had we both been veterans at this. The only mishap was my son had to hold the first two meaties while I cut more from the cones, that was corrected in about a minute.
    We saved the pullet for last, and my son nearly teared up when we processed her. (He would go in the pen or coup with a chair and talk to them, and sometimes hold them.)
    She was the smallest one dressing out at 5 lbs 3 oz, the largest of the cockerels dressed at 8 lbs 1 oz, with an overall average dressed weight of 6 lbs 15 oz (Without neck, giblets, liver, or heart.) Finished price per lb was just under $1.25 Plus I still have the necks and other parts.

    I also purchased 100 heavies and received 53 free with the order, for a total of 153 (Mostly cockerels.) from Mt. Healthy Hatchery on June 10th, So I will be processing to my hearts content come October.
    Not sure if I will try Cornish Crosses again, I'll make that decision after I have been able to compare price and taste of the Cross rocks to some of the Jersey Giants, Buff Orpington, and the others.

    Sorry so long, just wanted to give my success story, and give a big thanks for everything I was able to learn here.
    Thank you for a great forum!

    Last edited: Jul 29, 2013
  2. BCMaraniac

    BCMaraniac Songster

    Mar 27, 2013
    Congratulations! Sounds like the first experience was near perfect! We should all be so fortunate. Don't feel bad, I am 53 years old and got my first chickens last summer just to have eggs, and there has been an explosion of chickens at my house.

    You will be so pleased to take those chickens out of the freezer and cook them, and have the satisfaction of knowing that you raised them....not to mention the fact that you know what they ate and how they were treated.

    I raised and processed some CX this spring, and bought some Red Rangers along with white giants, orpingtons, and rocks(all males) to caponize, so I am growing those out now. I, too, am interested in the difference in the dual purpose breeds vs the CX and the Red Rangers.

    I appreciate your consideration of the economy, and the need to be more self sufficient, and I feel the same way. My goal is to be self sufficient in terms of raising our own birds from egg to processing. My husband still wants to raise a few CX each year because he like those big roasters, but I am hoping that the capons will serve that purpose for him.

    I don't know if you are raising layers, but I am sure your son would enjoy incubating eggs that are from your chickens. I bought a used incubator with an auto turner for $75, and just put eggs from my layers in it. We hatched out 18 chicks, and they are 5 weeks old. They are mutts, but they are growing well, and all are designated as meat birds as both parents are dual purpose, and I don't need any more layers. I also had a hen go broody, so we had that experience as well this year. So we have somewhere near 100 chickens right now, but we are going to begin processing the Red Rangers this weekend, and the rest will follow as they grow out.

    Perhaps you son needs a pet chicken(make sure it is a pullet). I never thought I would want a pet chicken, but I have two of my white giants that had difficulty being picked on by the others and kept away from food when they were younger, so they are actually smaller than they should be. They have become so tame because I babied them, so I am considering keeping them, especially since they are now capons. I keep telling my husband that if they are small that they won't be good for meat. I am not sure he is buying that argument, though.

    It will be interesting to hear how things go with your heavy breeds. With all of those cockerels, you might want to try to find someone near you to teach you how to caponize.....or read all you can and learn to do it yourself like I and others here at BYC have done. There are great threads here to learn about it, as well as read the experiences of those of us who are learning to do it.

    Welcome to the world of chickens, and again, Congrats!!
  3. hdmax

    hdmax Chirping

    Jul 29, 2013
    Central Ohio
    Thanks for the info and reply!
    Yes I purchased 20 Red Star pullets when I got the Cross rocks, as well as a few that are looking like pullets in the 153 heavies that I purchased, so it is looking like I may end up with 27-30 laying hens.
    And of the cockerels there are 5 that I am eyeing to find two good roosters. (2 silver laced Wyandotte, 1 red star, 1 black jersey giant, and 1 columbian rock!)

    I am now in the process of building a forced air incubator, so if I don't go with the cross rocks next year, I plan on incubating eggs from the laying hens. (I may do that regardless!) I have $45 in an egg turner, and $6 in 2 cans of great stuff expanding foam, everything else I had laying around.

    I roasted one of the cross x's I butchered. It rested in the fridge for 54 hours then I placed it in brine for 12 hours, before roasting it for 3 hrs 45 min at 280*. (The dressed weight was 7 lb 13 oz.) It was very good if I say so myself, My son ate 3 helpings, then just had leftovers a few minutes ago. So I think he liked it, but I'm sure you know how teenage boys eat.

    One of the cockerels started crowing at 5 1/2 weeks, and it follows my son around, even sits in his hand while it eats from his other hand. It is a really pretty bird, Snow white body feathers with pure black neck and tail feathers, but runs from all the others, (Pretty much a sissy boy.) It always got in with the cross x until Saturday when I removed the barrier, now it runs from the others in hopes my son will protect it, and so far that is working for it, I am thinking it may end up as a pet.

    I thought about canonizing But doubt I will ever do that! I don't care that they will crow, and the pen and coop is plenty big for them to get away from each other, and they free range most of the time, I am sure I will have to separate the hens from all but a couple roosters some time in the next couple months.
  4. bj taylor

    bj taylor Songster

    Oct 28, 2011
    North Central Texas
    you have had wonderful success. I too wanted to learn how to better provide for my family & myself. i'm 58 & have had chickens for only a year now.
    I need to process some birds. hubby has no interest in doing it here at home & wants to take them to a processor. I may just get out there & do it my self one of these days.
    i'm curious about your cone set up. you say you had 28" traffic cones. i'm assuming that's measurement from top to bottom. you say, however, that you had to widen the mouth of the cone. is that where the head comes out or the wide part?
    how did you go about building a rack for them? you obviously know a lot about building things, but I thought I might be able to copy some of it.

    again, great job
  5. hdmax

    hdmax Chirping

    Jul 29, 2013
    Central Ohio
    The cones are 28" tall, I got lucky and found new ones at a construction supply warehouse that were $17 each, and the bottom opening diameter is just over 10" (2" wider than the ones at Lowes, saving $3 each as well.) I guessed on how much to remove from the small end, but needed to cut a total of about 5" off to allow those huge birds to set down in it far enough so their heads protruded far enough out the bottom to get a good hold for cutting the jugular.

    As for the rack, I had a rack from when I was a cabinet maker, and just modified that. However I think that if one was to take an old plastic folding table, cut two or three holes large enough to set the cones inverted into them, it would work great for any type of chicken. This is what I plan on doing before my big processing begins. I have 2 18" cones, and an extra 28" cone. I plan on setting things up for different size birds. The extra 28" cone will get a 15" plastic flower pot extension on it for the turkeys. I found one at Walmart that with the bottom cut out fits about 2" down inside the base of the cone, giving it a 15" diameter.

    One of my brooders is made from one of those old Sears turtle shell shipping things that mounts on a car roof, I took a couple old Oak glass doors, removed the glass, and used 1" x 2" wire mesh from an old rabbit cage I found, both doors are hinged, a light socket inside one end, and about100 or more 1/2" holes around the sides of the top half of the shell. This makes for a great brooder for up to about 15-20 chicks. (I have $7 for a heat lamp bulb, everything else I scrounged.) If the brooder is in a protected area with no draft, the top and bottom could be used as two brooders, placing a door, or window screen on the top to keep the chicks from flying out once they get a couple weeks old.

    It's amazing what you can find just laying around that can save lots of money. As for paying for processing birds, I would never even consider doing that. Once you have everything you need, heating the water is the only time consuming part of the process. In fact,I think it took longer stuffing those oversized birds in to the shrink bags then butchering them.

    My brother and his wife are paying $3 per chicken, plus supplying the bags, and ice, I offered to do them for free, if they brought ice, they declined! Ended up tossing the first bird to the dog because it was so tuff, I ask how long it was rested before they froze it, she said one day. I am pretty sure that was the problem.

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